Senior Living: Family Discussions about Stuff

Most of the time when we go to someone’s home for an assessment, just the homeowner, or owners are there.  We give them the information on steps to take in clearing stuff out of the house or downsizing.  Then leave some information for them to share with their family if they want to.

We do our best to make sure that everyone who needs to be there, is there to give input or get information directly from us.  Often, the homeowners tell us that they are the ones making the decisions, and they are confident in doing so.

We have the assessment.

Discuss next steps, and set a date to move forward with a house clearing, and the homeowners are very happy about having one more thing settled and out of the way.

But then, as the rest of the family finds out what their relatives have decided, they begin a process that seems like they care about them, but are really just undermining them.

This has caused problems from time to time,

As family members who were not at the assessment become suddenly very involved, but in a negative way.

“Who are these people (meaning us, Canadian Organizers Group)?  What are they going to do?  Why are you getting rid of the dining room table/antique clock/garden tools?  You might need them! ”

Sometimes, they phone us back to cancel. There is such an argument about the stuff in the house, and whether the homeowners know what they are doing.

They often sound very upset and tell me they want to get the work done, but they have to convince the family that they can’t do this on their own.  Often, we don’t hear back.


Recently, we got a call from a pleasant-sounding lady,

Who said she and her husband were moving in with family soon, and wanted to get the stuff cleared out well before they had to move, so there would be less stress during the move.

When we got to the house, the door was opened by a younger man, who looked at us as though we were potential scam artists.  He wanted proof of who we were, which we were happy to provide.

He invited us in and introduced himself as the couple’s son.  His parents had told him they had “asked some organizing people in to take care of the stuff they wanted to get rid of, and so I decided to be here, just in case.”

I told the gentleman that I thought that was a great idea.

As a group, we sat down at the table and talked about what the couple had in mind for timelines for the move, and what they had decided to take with them.

The son was surprised by many of his parent’s decisions.

They wanted to take very little and wanted to donate much of their furniture and household things.

The parents were surprised, in turn, by how much stuff their son thought they should keep.

“We just don’t want to trip over all that stuff”, they told him when he suggested they would regret not keeping things.

In the end, everyone agreed that a clear out was the way to go.  The best part was that there were no surprises.

I am always happy when families make an important decision like downsizing and moving together.  Everyone gets heard, and everything is out in the open.

Since the move won’t be for a few months, there is time to make changes to what they want to go, and what they want to keep.

Somehow, I think they won’t change their minds on this much.

I recommend families begin planning several months to a year before the move is to happen.  They will have enough time to go through all the things in the house.  Sentimental items should be left for last, as they tend to bog people down in nostalgia.

Let us help you with your next downsizing project!

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